Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the Lord. - Malachi 1:13
I, for one, am glad that I don’t have to sacrifice an animal every time I sin. For one thing, as an animal lover, I would be mortified to have to take the life of some precious creature. I am also not a fan of blood and gore, so I’m not sure how well I would hold up under such circumstances. That being said, however, I would like to think that if it were necessary, I would rise to the occasion and do as God commanded. At the point of time in which our passage was written, the children of Israel were not doing that.
In short, they had grown weary of the practice. They were tired of the offerings. They were sick of trying to find the perfect gift to give a holy God, so they began to take shortcuts. They continued the offerings, but with a halfhearted effort. They put little time and thought into what they were bringing and had a “good enough” attitude toward the entire process. The problem is, it wasn’t good enough. God demanded a perfect sacrifice not some halfhearted effort.
Even though we are no longer required to offer animal sacrifices, the Bible says that we are to present ourselves as living sacrifices unto God (Romans 12:1). Once again, God demands our best, but is that what we are offering? Are we giving of ourselves fully unto God each and every day? Are we surrendering our lives, thoughts, attitudes and actions to His will, or are we fulfilling our own agenda, giving Him just enough control to ease our conscience? Are we giving of our tithe and our talents? How much are we offering to God as a living sacrifice?
In our passage above, the Lord asked the children of Israel, “Should I accept this of your hand?” I believe the Lord is asking each of us the same question. We attend church every Sunday and say it’s good enough. We read our Bible a couple of times a week and think we're doing well. We say a prayer here and there and feel as if were doing God a favor by talking to Him. We occasionally help out a friend in need and see ourselves as super-spiritual. But all along, we know we can do more–that we should do more–and God knows too.
The crazy thing is, we expect God to simply accept what were willing to give and be happy about it, but He’s not. The truth is, He’s disappointed. Yes, He still loves us, and that love will forever remain unchanged, but God’s feelings towards us when we don’t do our best are the same as they were toward the church of Laodicea. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16) I know it sounds harsh, but if we look at this passage literally, God says that our halfhearted efforts make Him sick. Is that what we want? Do we want to sicken or disappoint our holy God who was willing to give His only Son for us and asks for so little in return?
I know we live busy lives, and with so many things to do, it’s tempting to cut corners here and there, but I caution you to remember that God is expecting your very best. He loves you, and not only does He want what’s best for you, but He also wants what’s best from you. Is He not worthy? Is He not deserving of all that we have to give? Please keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to do less than your best or to give less than what is required. God will bless your efforts, but only when you do your best! After all, it is our reasonable service!